The House of Representatives yesterday declared as ‘exploitative’ and ‘fraudulent’ the prevailing pump price of the premium motor spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, as fixed by the Petroleum Products Price Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
The House ad hoc committee on the downward review of the pump price from N145 to N70 made this known at the opening of its two-day investigative hearing in Abuja.
The committee, led by Hon. Nnanna Raphael Igbokwe (PDP, Imo) said from its investigations and facts before it, PMS should not have cost more than N70 per litre. According to the committee, regulatory agencies were largely responsible for the high cost of fuel because of the ‘unnecessary charges’ they introduced.
He insisted that if those charges were abolished, the pump price of petrol could be reduced by more than half from the current pricing template.
The ad hoc committee observed that the 30 kobo built into the template by PPPRA as “administrative charge” was uncalled for since the National Assembly has also approved a similar budget for the same item.
Igbokwe displayed a copy of the 2016 budget and pointed out where N1.3 billion was approved for PPPRA to cover the cost of hiring six cargo inspectors. According to him, “In the 2017 budget, which is before us, PPPRA has a proposal of another N500 million for regulation, monitoring and supply of petrol.
This budgetary provision has already taken care of the purpose for which you charge 30k on the template, yet Nigerians continue to bear the burden by paying N145 per litre”.
Similarly, the committee noted that the 84 kobo built into the template as port charge paid to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was not being utilised for the purpose for which it was meant.
They insisted that the N84 kobo was meant to provide ports services, including dredging, to accommodate larger vessels; the services were never provided.
“This has left Nigerians in a situation whereby they still pay for lightening services for smaller vessels that go to Cotonou or Lome to offload products from mother vessels. PPPRA will then add the cost to the pump price and ask Nigerians to pay,” he said.
Also, workers in oil and gas sector under the aegis of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have kicked against calls by some stakeholders in the industry for an upward review in the pricing template of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol.
The workers, in their presentation to the House of Representatives’ Ad- Hoc Committee on Review of Pump Price of Premium Motor Spirit yesterday, said since the economy was biting hard on all Nigerians, any attempt to review upward the template would further impoverish ordinary Nigerians as the additional price will be transferred to the end users of the product.
Although the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) petrol pricing template pegged the ex-depot price of a litre of petrol at between N131 and N133.28 price band, reports, according to PENGASSAN, have it that the depots have abandoned the PPPRA template with some of them now selling at N136, which is non-compliant with the authorised template.
The association pointed out that such a review would further impact negatively on the economy, which the government is currently trying to pull out of recession.
It noted: “PMS is a stable product in Nigeria and if there is any increase in its price will definitely drive up the inflation index.
Nigeria depends on PMS for not only transportation, but also to generate power for either home or industrial use, especially the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which can jumpstart the nation’s economy.” The investigative hearing continues today at the same venue.